Archive for Mary’s Raves


Christmas is All About Family

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merry christmas 2014
As I anxiously await the arrival of our sons and daughters-in-love I am reminded about how important family is at Christmas.  I am so very fortunate to have such a loving and close family.  We are spread out across the country but we make the effort to be together for Christmas.  I am truly blessed.  Here is my playful family last Christmas at Lake Gaston!


Over the years my family circle has grown.  The MSLL gang is a large part of that circle. This is the gang at our annual Christmas dinner along with our new addition, Ethan Campbell Wenger (being held by Ryan, his proud Dad)

My extended family goes much further than just our team.  It encompasses the wonderful friends that grace our showroom, our design clients that invite us into their homes and all the talented contractors that support us.  We get to know them and their families as part of our amazing family circle.

So whether you spend Christmas with family, friends or neighbors it is the people that make Christmas magical. Embrace the moments!

Merry Christmas to you and all your family circle!

Love to all,



If you have recently changed your color scheme or updated your interior how do you incorporate the new color scheme into this year’s holiday décor? Look for inspiration where you least expect it.

This dining room had recently been updated using a wonderful blue accent wall (Benjamin Moore #798 Blue Suede Shoes). Could this be our inspiration?

Blue accent wall was the inspiration!

Blue accent wall was the inspiration!


How do you use the common holiday colors of red and green with this blue wall? With very little investment in new decorations the room began to come together with the addition of blue ornaments and a few other blue accents. The new items included inexpensive glass and plastic ornaments, multi-colored small gift bags (including blue), small little gift wrap bows and curly ribbon. Other found items from the owner’s collection were wine glasses, an antique tall pitcher with a blue rim, glass cylinders, glass vases and glass candlesticks.

Blue glass candlesticks, a vase and a pitcher were from the owner's collection.

Blue glass candlesticks, a vase and a pitcher were from the owner’s collection.

The centerpiece was the starting point which used an assortment of ornaments and objects. Heights were varied to create a pleasing arrangement. Hostess gifts were wrapped in the small foil gift bags to later be used as place cards for a holiday dinner. To give the arrangement more length on the 108” long table curly ribbon was casually placed at each end of the centerpiece.

Assorted small ornaments, glass candlesticks and containers are the components of this easy centerpiece.

Assorted small ornaments, glass candlesticks and containers are the components of this easy centerpiece.

When the table settings were placed the centerpiece was adjusted to allow more room on the table. A few of the pieces removed from the table were placed on the serving buffet to carry out the multi-color scheme.

Company is coming table setting-casual but festive!

Company is coming table setting-casual but festive!

The pièce de résistance was the valance, created with Christmas ornaments tied to staggered lengths of curly ribbon, which frames the entrance to the dining room.

Holiday valance made of assorted shapes and sizes of ornaments.

Holiday valance made of assorted shapes and sizes of ornaments.

Each area of the great space was decorated with multi-colors including a touch of the newly added blue. Think about how you can bring a little of your new interior color(s) into your holiday scheme without starting all over.

Happy holiday decorating!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle!

I have never been leery about touching up a gilded mirror or a chipped frame.  But this last project was a challenge.  Our client had a very large chandelier that was way oversized for the dining room (left by a previous owner).  She wanted to replace it but hated to “just get rid of it”.  I suggested we lightened up the finish and place it in the large volume of space of the two story foyer.  Open mouth and insert foot… “I said I can lighten this up, no problem”.  I totally lost all sense of how large this piece is and how much it weighed.  The owner had her electrician take the fixture down and she brought it to our door.  When it arrived and she said: “It will take two of us to get it out of the SUV”, I began to realize the error of my ways to be so willing to take on the re-do.

But I had a plan.  My “trade secret” for renewing a variety of products is Rub n’ Buff.  I have used it for years on furniture, metal items, walls and more.  It comes in many colors and is available in many different finishes.

For this chandelier project I used one tube of the Pewter Rub n’ Buff.  Here are the before and afters.  Although, it is not yet hung it shows what a wonderful way you can re-new a piece.


Oversized chandelier for a compact dining space.


Close-up of chandelier part before applying the pewter finish


Finial with brushed on pewter finish


Chandelier almost ready to hang with new pewter finish with hints of the original finish showing through. We also have new drum shades on order to complete the updated look.


I found a great blog site that shows a number of ways to use Buff n’ Rub. Because this product is so easy to use you probably still have time to spruce up something in your house for the holidays.

Happy rubbing and buffing with my favorite Trade Secret!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle!



Beautiful and Exotic Stones

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Exotic stones are such an amazing work of nature.  When selecting natural stone for a project, I am always drawn to the unusual and rare.  Not all budgets and applications will allow the use of exotic stone but let’s explore the possibilities.

There are basically two types of stone compositions used for interiors.

Siliceous Stone is composed of silica and quartz-like particles.  It is very durable.  Granite, slate, sandstone and quartzite are a few examples:


Calcareous Stone is composed of calcium carbonate.    Marble, travertine, limestone and onyx are stones in this category. These stones are more sensitive to acidic foods and cleansers.


Josh Garskofthis from This Old House Magazine expresses my sentiments about natural stone:  “Every rock pulled from the earth has its own mineral color, veining, and speckles, brought vividly to life by stone-workers’ saws and polishing wheels. It will be as distinctive as an original work of art. A stone countertop will last as long as your house—maybe even longer.   It needs only a little routine care and forethought to ward off water marks, stains, and etching typically caused by acidic foods. But even if the worst happens—a chipped edge, a red wine spill—most stones can be restored by a professional. Unlike almost every other building material, stone does not decay. Rather, its natural beauty only enhances through years of use.”

Here are some larger images of amazing exotic, natural stones.

Granite can have incredible depth, visual texture and color.  The “movement” or the flow of the veining in the stone and the contrast of light and dark  mineral deposits place these granites in the exotic category.







Onyx has patterns and colors not available in many other stones.  Some onyx, like the Honey onyx, has translucent characteristics that are great for backlighting countertops for a dramatic visual effect.





Marble is softer than granite. It will age and develop its own patina over time.  Although not always recommended for kitchen countertops, with proper care it will retain its beauty for years.  The more “visual texture” marble has, the better for camouflaging any minor small imperfections.  One of my favorites is the pattern of Rainforest marble, resembling the limbs and twigs of trees.







So dream big with these exotic stones from far-away places! In your dream, which is your favorite and where would you put it?


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle! 


The MSLL girls just got back from the Fall 2014 High Point Furniture Market – Here’s are some of the highlights!

creative display ideas high point fall 2014

Market is a great place to find creative display ideas – how fun would it be to have a cool ride like this one as a conversation piece!  Plus, funny enough this showroom is for the company Go Home!

creative eye catching display ideas high point fall 2014

More creative display ideas – think back to your childhood with this one. The art of balloon animals!  This display is by More Council.

Unique expandable table high point fall 2014

We also look for unique engineering in furniture design. Check out this stylish dining table by Creative Metal that folds out to expand.

unique functional drawer detail high point fall 2014

This unique chest by Uttermost features drawers that function more like doors by swinging out rather than pulling straight out. Just another example of the creative features we find.

finish options in a wide range of colors high point fall 2014

This Palu chest is available in all these finished, plus any custom color!

finished drawer interior detail high point fall 2014

What a great detail! Each drawer features a different lining for an unexpected design.  Chest by More Council.

metallic finish options and creative hardware designs high point fall 2014

We are always on the hunt for ways to make furnishing even more unique. Here we have a wide selection of metallic finishes and hardware creations by Tritter Feefer Vintage to inspire our designs.

wore out after a long market high point fall 2014

All right, we’re excited about everything that was seen at market, but whew!  We’re wore out!

We hope you enjoyed seeing this small peek into the 2014 Fall High Point Furniture Market.  What was your favorite?

Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!



My Favorite Closet Accessories

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We have several custom closet designs on the drawing board for clients.  As I was researching closet accessories I found a few that I would like to incorporate into our next closet project.

All closet customization should include the following:

  • Long and short hanging rods
  • Drawer storage, shallow and deep
  • Shoe storage (and lots of it)
  • Open shelving for odd size items

Now comes the fun part…The closets accessories!  They will make keeping your closet organized a cinch!  Here are a few of my favorites:






What are your favorite closet accessories?  Join the conversation.  Send us pictures if you like!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle!


How many times have you used a shower and not had a place to put down the shampoo bottle and bar of soap?  Placing these necessities on the floor is far too far to reach and exposes them to way too much water.  What is the answer? There are many portable shower caddies and accessories to help with this problem. Many new tub/shower enclosures come complete with storage shelves and niches.  As you are planning any kind of bathroom update don’t forget the shower storage.

We do a lot of bathroom design using ceramic tile.  When using tile, the size and design of the niches are endless.  We always review with our client the type and size of niches/shelving they will need to accommodate their favorite products ie.big/small bottles, soap/body wash etc.   Often the niches not only function as storage but also as an integral design element. Here are a few examples of functional, decorative niches:


If your space or the budget prohibits a decorative niche, here are a few examples of a shelf, soap dish and ledge that may meet your bath storage needs:Bathroom-niches-shelf-ledge-bathtub-tile-storage

If you were designing a functional decorative niche, what would be your style and size requirements?

Hope this gives you ideas for stashing your bath stuff!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle!

Credits:  Some of the above photos were taken at Mosaic Tile in Raleigh, NC.

Categories : Design, Mary's Raves
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The Reason Why to Design-Before and Afters

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Interior design has been my profession and my passion for almost thirty years.  That means there are lots of pictures of projects before and after.  It is always fun to look back and see what a difference an update or total re-do can make.  These are not all recent photos.  The pictures were selected so you could see the before and the after in the same perspective.  This may help you to visualize the changes more easily.  We will start with the simplest project to show how some minor changes can make a major impact. The client’s dreams and design needs are highlighted for each project.

Fireplace/Bookcase Accessorizing

Before and After FireplaceThe client wanted to liven up her stone fireplace to coordinate with the new furnishings in the space.  Using some of her own things, items from Home Goods and custom ordered pieces we achieved a bright and pleasing display.  The stone fireplace and bookcases serve as the neutrals for the addition of multiple colors.  Collecting the accessories was the only time-consuming part of this project.  The installation took about 2 hours.

Great Room Makeover

Before and After Great RoomThe client was ready for a change from the 18-year-old rattan furniture and pale colors of this great room.  The project revolved around the selection of the Company C rug, (Pattern Lounge-color Lake).  The sectional was upholstered is a neutral khaki so accessories could be updated in the future without a total re-do.  The tropical fabric on the window treatments pairs well with the colors of the rug and tied together the other accents of sea glass green, turquoise and green.  Comfortable and casual for lake living.

Kitchen Update

Before and After Kitchen KSThe client was ready to make her kitchen into her own style without replacing the original ash cabinets.  The Cambria quartz countertop, the glass subway tiles and stainless steel appliances made an amazing improvement.  The new look was highlighted by new LED undercabinet lighting.

Coastal Dining Room Transformation

Before and After Dining RoomWithout moving any walls, this dining room was brought back to life with bright yellow paint, a Company C rug (Pattern Rise and Shine-color Marigold) and casual dining furniture for a fun Coastal cottage.

Traditional Kitchen Renovation

Before and After Kitchen RBThe client loves to cook and entertain.  The house did not allow for expansion so the new kitchen fit in the original footprint with an addition of a small window and minor wall/door modifications.  The outstanding elements in this kitchen are the custom mullion design of the cabinet doors and the curved island.  Because the sizes of the glass transom cabinet doors varied, each set of door insets were custom-made.  The island is has a curved raised panel back (sorry it is not shown here).  Hand painted ceramic tile backsplash, leather finished granite, backlight glass countertop and LED lighting make this kitchen shine and perform!

Contemporary Kitchen Renovation

Before and After Kitchen GGThe client is an exceptional cook who entertains all her extended family at Lake Gaston.  She terms the kitchen as her “mid-life crisis”!  She wanted lots and lots of storage and light.  The enlargement of the picture window and the addition of a skylight gave us exceptional natural light.   The extra storage was achieves by floor to ceiling cabinets on the opposite wall.  The kitchen was enlarged by 5′ by relocating the laundry room.  The piece de resistance is the stone, glass and stainless steel mosaic tile backsplash.  Wouldn’t we all like to have this as our “mid-life crisis”!

Looking back at these transformations is a lovely walk down memory lane.  It’s also a wonderful inspiration of how creative problem solving and our ever evolving resources have lead to some amazing spaces for our clients – let us see what we can do for you!

 Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle on Lake Gaston and Beyond!


Finding fun and finds in Atlanta!

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We just returned from our semi-annual market trip to Atlanta.  Boy did we pack a lot into this trip!

We were pleased to be invited to a Retailers Round Table Breakfast sponsored by Home Accents Today Magazine at the Capital City Club.  This was a small group of retailers ranging from one of the largest online home fashions companies (Wayfair) to independent interior designers.  We shared insights about consumer buying trends, the use of social media and other business issues.  It was a great to take part in this forum and express our ideas amongst our national peers.

icon awards banguet honoring exceptional vendors and retailers at americasmart atlanta

Later the same day we were invited to the largest awards event in the gift and home industry, The Icon Awards.  Thanks to Home Accents Today magazine, we were guests at their table to hear the presentations of the awards to so many deserving companies.  Most of the award winners have built very successful, large companies that are very involved in local, national and international causes.  It makes one feel very fortunate to be involved in this industry. Entertainment for the evening was a performance by the band Heart.  Do you remember their most popular song in the 70’s?  Here is a short clip of part of their performance.

Now for the finds.  Here are a few of the interesting displays and items we found.

Solaria 26″ Globe Chandelier was amazing.  They just introduced this fixture in multiple colors.

Solaria chandelier 26 diameter painted gold or silver finish stunning

Contemporary large art was everywhere.  Here is a pair of prints from Paragon.

americasmart art contempoary paragon wall-art

This window display at Mud Pie was still showing the chalk board theme for the holidays.  Santa, Mrs. Claus and the reindeer have their places marked on this chalk board runner.  We are not over this trend just yet.

Set your holiday table with a chalkboard motif

This cute display of stuffed animals on inner-tubes and slides was quite eye-catching. Great merchandising…we bought some of these cute Knitzie animals.

kids play at Americasmart Atlanrta with Knitzies stuffed animals

Dixie was into head-gear as evidenced by her many poses in various hats and headbands.

Dixie modeling head gear at americasmart atlanta

The girls and I did manage to have some fun with an afternoon glass of champagne with floating Wild Hibiscus Flowers…soon to be available at MSLL.

Girls having fun in Atlanta at Americasmart Kehe booth hibiscus flower champagne cocktail

One more shot of our late evening play-a ride on the Atlanta ferris wheel at Olympic Park, adjacent to our hotel!

Atlanta ferris wheel at Olympic Park downtown


So-these girls do know how to have fun mixed with a lots of work!

You can look forward to lots of new items starting to arrive any day!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!



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IBS / KBIS LogosThe 2014 Kitchen and Bath Show in Las Vegas exceeded all expectations.  For the first time the International Builders’ Show (IBS) and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) co-located to create Design and Construction Week. This is one of the world’s largest gatherings focused on new ideas, products and technologies for designing, building and remodeling homes.  An estimated 70,000 people came to Las Vegas for this show.

Here are a few of my favorites from the show.

Technology based items were everywhere from blue tooth enabled key locks to docking stations for all our electronic gadgets.  The new KEVO deadbolt locking system was amazing.  Programming the entry into your house for workers or guests from anywhere with the use of your smart phone is just one of the many functions.

Control passage into your home with blue-tooth enabled dead bolts.

Control passage into your home with blue-tooth enabled dead bolts.


Charge all your electronic gadgets while stashed in a drawer!

New cabinet organization products are always of great interest at this show.  Pullout details in upper and lower cabinets make full use of interior cabinet space.  Cut-out roll out shelves in a vanity cabinet insures easy access and better space utilization.

Pull out utensil storage!

Pull out utensil storage!

Vanity base cabinet with plumbing cut-out to optimize pull out storage.

Vanity base cabinet with plumbing cut-out to optimize pull out storage.

New LED lighting options were everywhere.  We have been using LED fixtures for about two years but we learned a few more tricks about incorporating lighting in all the nooks and crannies of cabinets. My favorite was interior lighting for cabinet drawers and a Lazy Susan base cabinet.  With LED’s you will never be without light in hard to see interiors.  I am really a fan of this technology.  For more lighting tips checkout our blog:


No more dark drawer interiors!


LED lighting in a base lazy-susan cabinet.

Many appliance manufacturers returned to this show with some great new products. Induction cooking surfaces, steam ovens and many “smart” control features were the highlights.  With Thermador’s steam and convection oven you can cook a moist, golden brown 14 lb turkey in just 90 minutes.  This would surely make holiday food prep easier!  I also love the Thermador Freedom Full Surface Induction cooktop.  This cooktop allows you to place four pots or pans anywhere on the cooking surface and adjust the heat to the size of the pan.  The Wine Station by Dacor would be a wine enthusiast’s dream come true.  There is perfect temperature controls for up to four bottles of your favorite vino.

Cooking will never be the same after you cook with steam in this new Thermador steam oven.

Cooking will never be the same after you cook with steam in this new Thermador steam oven.

Store and keep four different types of wine at the correct temperature with Decor's Wine Station.

Store and keep four different types of wine at the correct temperature with Decor’s Wine Station.

Of course it was not always all work and no play!

Dixie and Autumn trying their luck at the slots in it wasn't all work and no play!

Dixie and Autumn trying their luck at the slots in Vegas…so it wasn’t all work and no play!

Let us know if you would like more information on any of these innovative new products!  How would you use these new products?  What is your favorite?



Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle! 




Garage Organization-The Before and After

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I am about to open up and share a very scary sight.  This is our garage before ORGANIZATION!

Before garage organization-yikes!

THE BEFORE Garage-does this look similar to something you might have?

Sooo…about two years ago we outfitted our garage.  It was a big investment but worth every penny.  It does not stay perfect but it is amazing how easy it is to straighten up and keep it tidy.  Paul even has his “garage man cave” with kegerator and lounge chair.   Pictured here is the Sherwood’s garage re-do.

How to start   

Make three piles…what to keep, what to donate and what to throw away.  Get rid of the items to donate and to throw away immediately.  If you don’t part with them after you sort, they just seem to migrate back into a “comfortable” corner of the garage.

How to Get Organized

Arrange items in groups of how you use them.  Car care supplies, sporting gear, lawn care tools, hobby materials and do-it-yourself tools are just a few suggestions.

Drawer for garden tools.

Gardening tools at the ready!

Pots and potting supplies.

Pots and more pots!

Assorted paints for craft projects.

Painting and Craft Project Supplies


Storage for cleaning gear organized for easy access.

Cleaning Equipment Storage

Tool drawer for working on the vehicles

Motorcycle tinkering equipment drawer!

Plan a place to stash seasonal stuff that you use infrequently.  Measure items that will need to be sorted and stored in labeled closed bins.

Storage planned to house seasonal decorations,

Great Christmas Decoration Storage

 Storage Options

Every guy lusts for a Diamond Plate cabinet storage systems. It is beautiful but an expensive option. (Photo: My Great Garage)Diamond-Plate-Storage-garage-organization-cabinetry

There are many other garage storage systems on the market that may better fit the budget.  Open shelving systems are less costly and make items more visible.  Closed cabinets keep items cleaner and concealed but also may give you an excuse to stay disorganized.  Try to keep as much off the floor as possible to avoid the debris and dirt brought in by vehicles.  Wire shelving, peg board and overhead storage all will help with your organization plan.

Cabinetry, countertop and sink provide a great space for potting plants!

Storage, work surface, and sink for projects, potting and easy clean-up.

 Garage Floors 

Painting or covering the garage floor will help with clean up and track-in to the house. An epoxy concrete floor coating provides a cleanable surface which can hide flaws in the existing bare concrete.  Vinyl, interlocking squares can be an easy quick fix.   Another option is an auto floor guard containment mat which protects the garage floor as well as contains moisture dripping from cars.

Creature Comforts

If your garage space allows and there is no other room for a “man cave,” add some creature comforts in the garage.  Include things like a cooler, beer frig., seating, and music to create a relaxation zone after a hard day’s work in the great outdoors!

Kergerator and acoutrements!

Kegerator, created from a vintage GE refrigerator, barware and necessary acoutrements!

Paul's garage man cave with his two wheel ride and comfortable lounge chair

Paul’s “Garage” man cave complete with motorcycle art, beer kegerator and lounge chair!

If garage renovation is on your list of home improvement I highly recommend it!  Never again will we let our garage get to the “BEFORE” state.  What would you tackle first to get your garage organized?

Happy organizing!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle! 



Statement Furniture Hardware

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Over the last few Design Wisdom Wednesday blogs we have been discussing trends from the High Point Market.  I would like to continue this trend spot discussion.

While in the Hooker Furniture showroom I was drawn to all the amazing hardware applied to the chests and credenzas.  This was not any ordinary hardware. Many were super-sized and elaborately designed.  Looking at the furniture and the enlarged hardware will give you an idea of scale of these pieces.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Black credenza with rectangular dark pewter hardware pulls. Crackle mother of pearl veneer and over sized hardware embellish this chest.

Serpentine credenza with burnished gold hardware Leather covered credenza with gold door knocker hardware. Classic black three drawer chest with intricate and large pewter hardware. Small ocassional chest, painted pewter finish and hardware. Chest with black embossed leather, pewter nail head trim and buckle pulls. Turquoise painted chest w brushed pewter hardware

All the furniture pieces shown above are available as photographed.  We are trying to source out options for purchasing individual hardware pieces.  Hooker Furniture is kindly researching their availability. Many of the pulls are specially tooled for them.

Which is your favorite?  Are you as excited as I am about this new hardware trend?  Let us hear from you!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living -Working with you to create your lifestyle!


Lighting is so important in creating the mood and function of the interior of your home.  Lighting that is too bright and harsh creates an uncomfortable glare that is hard to live with.  Lighting that is too dim can create other problems such as difficulty reading, safely working in the kitchen and navigating stairs.   So how do the 2014 Consumer Bulb regulations really affect us?   It certainly makes shopping for light bulbs more challenging.

Only 10% of consumers feel knowledgable about the new lighting bulb options.

Only 10% of consumers feel knowledgable about the new lighting bulb options.

Here are some insights provided by Lutron Electronics:

  1.  Only 10% of adults feel very knowledgeable about bulb options after the latest phase-out.
  2.  There seems to be a lot of resistance from consumers to use anything that resembles fluorescent light.
  3.  72% of consumers do not realize that not all CFL and LED lamps are dimmable.
  4.  Almost two-thirds (65%) of consumers say that they are likely to use new technology bulbs (such as CFLs, LEDs, and halogens).

As of January 1, 2014 the final phase of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 went into effect banning 60 and 40 watt incandescent bulbs.  There is a myth that incandescent bulbs are disappearing altogether.  This is not true.  Most decorative bulbs  such as candelabra bulbs and three way bulbs will remain the same.   It simply means the 100, 75, 60 and 40 watt will no longer be manufactured or imported into the U.S.  Many retail sources will still have these bulbs available through 2014, but isn’t it time to help save the planet.

So what are the choices?  It can be really confusing. The common incandescent light bulb is inexpensive, dimmable and produces warm light, but it uses more electricity and has a very short life span.

A few examples of light bulb choices with kelvin rating and approximate costs.

A few examples of light bulb choices with kelvin rating and approximate costs.

Here are some of the pros and cons of three replacement options as compared to incandescent bulbs.

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs-CFLs:

Pros-use 75% less energy than incandescent, last 7 – 10 times longer

Cons- Often take longer to warm up, most are not dimmable, contains mercury, & provides marginal light quality.

Halogens Bulbs

Pros- These are a form of incandescent bulb (not being phased out) that give off instant light and good color rendition. Most are dimmable

Cons – Create heat, have a short life span and are more expensive than CFLs

Light-emitting Diode Bulbs-LEDs

Pros- Use less energy than CFLs.  Last 18-46 years. Instantly brighten. Some are dimmable

Cons- Unusual shapes, heavy fixtures, expensive (but prices are coming down)

What else do you need to know about making the right bulb choice?

  1.  Not all types of bulbs will fit all fixtures.  A-type bulbs will fit standard screw-in fixtures.
  2.  Not all are dimmable, check the label.
  3.  Check the lumens (the measure of brightness).  450 lumens replace the 40 watt bulb.  800 lumens replace the 60 watt bulb.  1100 lumens replace the  75 watt bulb.
  4.  Choose color of light by the Kelvin number.  For example: Warm light is 2700K. Bright White light is 3000-3500K.  Cool bright light is 4000- 4100K.    For the best general effect use 3000-3500K bulbs.
From warm to cool LED lighting and Kelvin ratings.

From warm to cool LED lighting and Kelvin ratings.

LED’s are the best options for variations in brightness, color rendering, energy conservation and long lasting.  In all of our recent kitchen design work we have been specifying LED accent and task lighting.  Here is an example of a beautiful wall of cherry cabinetry and onyx countertop/backsplash totally illuminated by various types of LED lighting.

A beautiful wall of cabinetry  illuminated with LED lighting.

A beautiful wall of cabinetry illuminated with LED lighting.

 If you would like to try simulating the differences in lighting options here is a useful app, LightSmart, available for:



that lets you see the effects of changes in Lumens and Kelvin numbers.

For more information about light bulb choices go to these links:,2817,2428279,00.asp

The abundance of new lighting choices presents a wealth of creative possibilities.  We are constantly learning new ways to incorporate more lighting into your home for function and beauty.

Do you have a lighting issue that may benefit from some creative lighting options?  Let us know and we will see what Brilliant Ideas we can suggest.

Don’t be left in the Dark!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!


Everyone always loves “before” and “after” shots of project work.  I searched the archives of thousands of pictures to show you some of the kitchen projects we have done over the years.  Some of these projects go back about 10 years but still seem almost timeless today.  When a project can stand the test of “style” time you have done your job.  Yes, cabinet finishes, countertop preferences, backsplash tile trends and lighting are constantly changing.  But it was amazing to me see how many of these kitchens still work today.


Contemporary Kitchen for 2003 and Today Transitional KitchenTraditional Kitchen with Timeless Elements

Greensboro Traditional Kitchen

If you know your comfort zone (of style and color) when planning your kitchen it will be something you can enjoy for many years.  Good planning is the key. There are lots of options to consider.  Making the right choices are critical.  Working with a knowledgeable kitchen designer can insure your kitchen will easily stand the test of “style” time.

Let us work with you to fine tune your likes to create your style!

Show us pictures of what is in your kitchen or “dream” file that illustrates your style!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle! 




With Valentine’s in the air, it is time to fall in love all over again with your home at Lake Gaston or beyond.  I read several other designers’ blogs that suggest working on organization, creating cozy spots and adding fresh paint as ways to rekindle that fire.  I am taking another approach.  Here I selected five things that make me smile and look forward to coming home.

This bulls-eye painted chest just makes me laugh.  How about placing this in the “catch all” space where we drop all our belonging as we come home.  Plenty of space to store the dog leash, keys, purse etc.  The chalk board painted door makes it easy to leave a message (or a little love note) on the way out the door.  Coming home to an organized entrance with storage and a new message would give you something to look forward to.

Bullseye! You just gotta laugh!  Chalk board painted door is perfect for leaving a little "love" message.

Bullseye! You just gotta laugh! Chalk board painted door is perfect for leaving a little “love” message.

What to do with all the gadgets?  With this chest you can have a way to store and charge all the gear – like phones, tablets and lap tops.  This small but functional piece can fit in just about any space. It is perfect for beside your favorite chair.  The doors conceal its incredible function.  The painted finish and nail head trim are a great cover up for all the “stuff”.

Love this new docking station furniture piece for all today gadgets! The  nail head trim and aqua color adds a great decorative touch!

Love this new docking station furniture piece for all today gadgets! The nail head trim and aqua color adds a great decorative touch!


Speaking of gadgets…is this a frog’s version of Google glasses? This frog art is so funny I just couldn’t resist including it as something that may brighten your day, make you happy and love your home.

This isn't Google glasses but could be for a frog! Just had to share this one!

This isn’t Google glasses but could be for a frog! Just had to share this one!


Looking outside on a winter day can make you feel as gloomy as it looks.  Place a colorful piece of yard art outside your favorite window to brighten your day and remind you spring is on its way.  This re-cycled metal heron sculpture would look great in your lake view garden.



Those of you who have four legged friends most often look forward to their greeting.  Don’t forget to take them along for the ride!  This dog art caught my eye because we all would like to hang our head out the window, ears (or hair) flapping in the breeze and being so free!

Brighten your wall ! Man or woman's best friend going a long for the ride!

Brighten your wall!  Man or woman’s best friend going a long for the ride!

Here is a final tip for loving your home.  Find your favorite, comfortable space and target fixing up that one spot with repurposing what you have or by adding one piece of whimsy to make you happy.

A happy home is a home you will love!

Love to all


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and beyond!



Five Ways to Light Up Your Kitchen

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Your kitchen is the hardest working room in your home.  Lighting for the kitchen should be more than utilitarian.  Consider general, task and accent lighting when developing a lighting plan.  This kitchen illustrates five ways to get the most functional and stylish illumination.

Beautiful lighting in a beautiful kitchen!

Undercabinet recessed LED lighting


  • Recessed lighting:  This type of lighting is used for general illumination.  Plan the placement of these lights for the best overall effect.  Avoid using too many recessed cans which can give a ceiling the “Swiss cheese” effect.
  • Task lighting is the most important lighting and most often overlooked.  While recessed cans can provide the general lighting, task lighting focuses on the work areas.  One of the newest (and my favorite) way to light the countertop surfaces is with undercabinet LED fixtures.   Range hood lights are also a form of task lighting.
  • Pendants can provide task lighting as well as adding a decorative element.  Use multiple pendants if illuminating a large work surface, like this island.
  • Chandeliers serve as task, decorative and general lighting.  Adding a dimmer switch will improve its multi-tasking.  Dimming a chandelier and adding candlelight creates a soft ambiance for dining.
  • Interior cabinet accent lighting can add drama and pizzazz to a kitchen.  It is often used to highlight decorative items displayed within the cabinets.  When used alone at night, it adds a soft gentle illumination to the space.

Lighting fixture selection can require a lot of research.  The lighting industry is constantly changing with the enactment of United States Lighting Energy Policy. This policy aims to phase out some incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives.  We are seeing the increased use of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).  The up and coming leader in energy efficient lighting and lighting quality is the Light Emitting Diode (LED).  The advantages of using LED’s are its efficiency, long lasting properties, and low heat output.

To get the most out of your kitchen illumination, consult a design professional to assist you in working through the many choices available in today’s market. Your kitchen lighting should be considered an important investment in the function, aesthetics and value of your home.

Send us your best kitchen lighting project.  We would love to share it!



Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and beyond!


Making Memories!

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We have been posting our Design Wednesday Wisdom for almost one year.  How time flies when you are able to do something you love…design, create, work with incredible people, and live at Lake Gaston.  WOW! Instead of a design tip for today indulge me while I reflect on this holiday season.

It was so incredible to have my sons and daughters-in-love and a few other family members join us here at Lake Gaston.   As you have seen from the unusual Sherwood Christmas trees in earlier posts I am not all about tradition.  Elif, Jake’s wife, asked a poignant question about what were some of the holiday traditions we celebrated as the boys were growing up.  We started to make a list.  The highlights were making gingerbread cookies, leaving cookies and milk for Santa, homemade Burt and Ernie ornaments, decorating with a collection of small Santa’s and Nutcrackers (one for each boy, each year),Christmas Eve children’s mass,  NO opening of presents until Christmas morn, and a big turkey dinner.

Each year, each holiday we make new memories and begin new traditions.  This year was no exception.  Here is just one of the playful picture of our family.  Kiori is holding up a picture of two “naked” Sherwood boys much to the boys dismay.


Left to Right: Elif, Jake, Mary, Paul, Aaron and Kiori

Left to Right: Elif, Jake, Mary, Paul, Aaron and Kiori

We were pleased to have Elif’s parents join us for a few days.  Her mom, Melahat, was the bearer of wonderful Turkish food such as Köfte and Sarma.  It is always fun to experience foods from other cultures. To learn more about Turkish cuisine here is a link:  Thanks to Melahat and Elif for sharing their food and being part of our family!

Our Turkish meal complete with Kofte, Sarma, Cucumber Salad and Roasted Potatoes

Our Turkish meal complete with Kofte, Sarma, Cucumber Salad and Roasted Potatoes

Kiori, Aaron’s wife, added to the varied and incredible food at the Sherwood house. The day after we had our traditional turkey dinner she sought out ways to be creative with the leftovers using her Japanese cooking skills. She made small cornbread stuffing patties with ginger and other spices coated with panko crumbs.  She never uses a recipe.  She scouts for what is in the frig. and the spice drawer and works her magic.  Thanks, Kiori!

One of the major hits of the week was the Loaded Mashed Potato Soup from Chef Yvonne.  We had made extra mashed potatoes with the turkey.  I was planning a few potato cakes as well as the soup.  The soup won out. I made it two days in a row.  In the second batch I added ½ teaspoon of Cayenne Powder.  It was even a bigger hit. Also (don’t tell Chef Yvonne) I substituted a little milk or sour cream for the heavy cream  which I didn’t have. Here is the recipe just in case you have any left-over mashed potatoes or want a real crowd-pleasing winter soup.

Loaded Mashed Potato Soup

Yield: 6-7 cups, Prep Time: 15-20 minutes, Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

  • Ingredients:
  • 3 cups Leftover Mashed Potatoes Garnish:
  • 1 cup Half And Half 1 cup Bacon Crumbles
  • 2 tsp Vegetable Base 1 cup Green Onion sliced
  • 1 White Onion, diced 1 cup Sour Cream
  • ½ cup Mushrooms, diced (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper To Taste
  • Smoked Or Sweet Paprika To Taste
  • 2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1-4 cups Water, as needed
  • Directions:
  • 1) In a large pot sauté butter, onions, and mushrooms until onions are transparent.
  • 2) Add mashed potatoes, half and half, vegetable base and 1 cup of water.   Cook till hot and potatoes have no lumps.
  • 3) Taste and add salt, pepper, and paprika.
  • 4) Add cheddar cheese stirring until melted, add more water if needed.
  • 5) Cook on medium until flavors are well blended.
  • GARNISH: Bacon, green onions, and sour cream
  • Recipe by Chef Yvonne Hoffman of Y Cook?

Well, this brief holiday reflection has run on far too long.  It looks like most of the special memories of this holiday revolved around the food shared with family and friends.  What could be better!  I know each of you have your own special moments.

What was your favorite activity, food or special moment? Let us hear from you!

Wishing you a fun-filled, smashing, rocking, and happening New Year! 

Happy New Year!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and beyond!





Happy Thanksgiving from MSLL – 2013

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From all of us here at Mary Sherwood Lake Living, we’d like to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!


LOVE YOU LIKE A ROCK-A Magical Moment!

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I don’t often write about personal experiences but there was a magical moment that occurred at our store on Saturday.  The day had been a busy one.  Cooking class at 10 Am and shoppers in and out all day.  Later in the afternoon a client and her husband (I’ll call him W) stopped by to ask if I would look at a product he was creating.  This happens from time to time and I always try to oblige.  But before I go on I have to give you a little background history.

About two years ago we began helping this client with the renovation of their lake house after water damage.  While the house was being renovated another water incident (unrelated to the construction work) occurred which required more extensive work.  My heart went out to this couple facing one challenge after another.  The husband and wife were made of strong stock.  The project was finally completed and the summer was spent enjoying the lake house with a blended family of kids and friends.   Shortly after that summer W’s work environment changed dramatically and they had to re-group one more time.  Life was settling down for them when W developed an unusual illness.  He was a retired military officer so there was some chance his illness was related to biological warfare.  It took months for them to receive the diagnosis.  W became weaker each day.

Fast forward about six months and they arrive in our store on Saturday with a new venture.  This is the beginning of their story.  Love You Like A Rock was born from the many challenges and stumbling blocks of facing a life changing illness, Muscular Sclerosis.   While working in the field of water stream conservation and management W fell in love with all kinds of natural rocks found on river banks. Now, unable to work due to his illness, he found a way to express himself using some of the beautiful rocks he had collected.

Here is a product of his labor, a gift to his wife for all her support:

W's first rock painting given to his wife in appreciation for all her support!  Temporarily on loan to MSLL.

W’s first rock painting given to his wife in appreciation for all her support! Temporarily on loan to MSLL.


The couple love Lake Gaston and their home here.  Also, they wanted to do something to support MS research.  With that in mind W started painting Lake Gaston images on the rocks.  He left me four rocks to display and test the “waters” about how they would sell in our area.  Thirty minutes later, as we were about to lock the doors, a group of women came in for a quick look before closing.  The rocks were sitting on the gift wrap counter.  I started telling W’s story. All the wonderful, creative, hand painted river rocks walked out the door with these fine women.  I did not even have time to photograph them all.  All of the proceeds from the hand painted rocks will be donated to Muscular Sclerosis research. He will paint any custom name or image on any size rock.

Holly Boniface and Debra Aleck with their "Love You Like A Rock" creations.  Thank you girl's for making my day!

Holly Boniface and Debra Aleck with their “Love You Like A Rock” creations. Thank you girl’s for making my day!

So this was one of my magical moments, seeing W’s commitment to finding a new path, the wonderful customers who listened to W’s story and to all the others with MS that may benefit from his donation to MS research.

Thank you to W and all the Veterans as we honor you this Veteran’s Day!


Categories : Mary's Raves
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Thanksgiving Survival Guide

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If you are hosting this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, don’t panic just be prepared. Don’t be like the student that saves the writing of the term paper to the night before it is due. 🙁  Preparation is everything!

Gobble, gobble! This silly turkey is bound to make you smile when displayed for Thanksgiving.

Gobble, gobble! This silly turkey is bound to make you smile when displayed for Thanksgiving.

Here is a checklist to help you be prepared:

1. Plan ahead.  Collect your recipes.  If you are a new to planning a Thanksgiving meal don’t try to prepare everyone’s favorite.  You only have so much oven space!! Ask guests to contribute if you are not planning to fix their favorite.

2. Create your grocery list. Add to the list a meat thermometer and a roasting pan for the turkey, if needed.   A disposal aluminum roaster can work but be careful when moving it when loaded with the big bird.  Place a cookie sheet under this kind of roaster to help move it safely. Have a few pantry products on hand for simple desserts and appetizers.  Here is a recipe for a Sweet Potato Strudel with Caramel Sauce.

3. Pick up a few festive tea towels, pot holders and serving pieces to dress up you table.  Candle light always make the occasion more special.

Hand made wood bowl, themed ceramic ware, gourmet foods and more for the Thanksgiving feast.

Hand made wood bowl, themed ceramic ware, gourmet foods and more for the Thanksgiving feast.

4. Construct a timeline for the week proceeding turkey day…what you need to do and when.  Helpful turkey facts:  A 16 pound turkey feed 8 adults, takes 4 days to thaw in the refrigerator and 3 ½ to 4/12 hours to bake at 325 degrees. The turkey is done when meat thermometer reads 180 degrees.  The best turkey advice can be found at  Their emergency number is 800-BUTTERBALL.  Let’s hope you don’t need it!

5. Make ahead casseroles, desserts, cranberry sauce, rolls and pies.  Remember the bird has reign over the oven on turkey day.  Some things like mashed potatoes are best made the day of.  Don’t forget to save the turkey drippings for the gravy.

Don't forget the gravy!

Don’t forget the gravy!

6. Check out what time the nearest grocery store closes on Thanksgiving Day.  There will probably be something that has been forgotten.

7. Don’t worry about having enough matching tableware to serve your crowd.  Current trend is to mix it up.  Have extra trivets and towels for hot items.

8. Fill an ice chest with ice.  You don’t want to run out.

9. Wrangling leftovers.  For safety sake make sure leftovers head to the frig. within two hours of dining.  Have extra containers and wrap to send home food with your guests.  Freeze what leftovers you cannot finish by the end of the weekend.

10. Be nice to your drains and garbage disposals.  Do not put fats, cooking oils, turkey skin and very fibrous foods in the garbage disposal.  They may clog up the drain.  Not fun to need the plumber on a holiday weekend.

Remember it’s a holiday!!! Have some fun and don’t worry if the turkey takes longer or the mashed potatoes are lumpy.  The best part of the day is being together with love ones and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – Working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and beyond! 


We had great event week!  To get ready for two special gatherings, we had lots of party prep to do.  The team of Mary Sherwood Lake Living worked hard to make it all come together!  Yeah, team!

On Thursday evening, we hosted the Lake Gaston Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours.  On a wet, rainy evening about 65 people came out to socialize and sample wonderful food by Chef Yvonne of Y Cook.

On Saturday evening, we threw a thank you bash for our loyal customers and friends.  We are very thankful for all our star customers that help us shine as one of Home Accents Today magazine’s Top 50 Retail Stars for 2013.  Once again the MSLL team and Chef Yvonne made it all happen.

Here is a video of the quick and so easy floral arrangements we made for the tables.

Thanks to everyone who supported us.  It was great fun having you all!

If you missed the parties here is a snapshot of the events!







If you were able to attend either of these events, what was your favorite part?

Thanks again!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle! 




Kitchen Organization with Panache!

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Organization is the best way to make your kitchen a pleasurable and efficient work space.  Whether you are contemplating a new kitchen or re-organizing your existing one, here are some lessons I recently learned from my interior designer/daughter-in-law, Elif.

The planning of this kitchen started over two years ago. During one of our visits to California, Elif and I explored options for their future kitchen re-model.  We spent a number of hours at the local IKEA store playing with their design program to rough out a design. We perused the cabinet styles, finishes, and accessories.  I was particularly interested in the cabinet organization tools.

Elif tweaked and re-tweaked the kitchen design many times over to make the most efficient use of the existing space.  Moving a wall was not an option. Because of the limited footprint most of the appliances had to remain in the same location with one exception.  The sink and dishwasher were moved about two feet to improve function and access for multiple cooks.  Keeping appliances in the original location also saved some expense.

We have just returned from California where the new kitchen has been unveiled! Jake and Elif did not post any pictures of the finished product before our visit so we could see for ourselves. (Thanks guys!)  Arriving at their place the kitchen was my first stop. All I can say is WOW!  The sleek design fits the open loft feel of the contemporary condo.


Beautiful Contemporary Kitchen with Exceptional Organization

The tour of the new kitchen included the nifty options such as LED lighting, touch latch wall cabinet hardware, self closing drawer glides and the amazing organization tools.  Elif’s well planned placement of all the essentials in all the right size compartments is the best I have ever seen.

Here is her mastermind organization!  Everything has a place.


A place for all the little cooking utensils and serving pieces!


Flatware neat and tidy!


Dividing a drawer makes it the perfect spot for plates.

kitchen-organization-cups-small plates

Tapas plates and cappuccino cups nestled in this drawer!


Drawers can share functions with dividers! Large platters fit nicely with large utensils.


Neat and Tidy Cookbook Corner

Appearance of the kitchen is usually the first and foremost thought when redesigning.  But kitchen organization has really proved its importance after using this efficient space.

Beauty inside and out is the way your newly organized kitchen should be!

What is your favorite kitchen organization tip?


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle on Lake Gaston and Beyond


Note: My talented daughter-in-law, Elif Karacay, is a practicing interior designer with Norman Design Group in Torrence, CA.  Thank you Elif and Jake for sharing your new kitchen and its organization!



Pre-gaming and Tailgating

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It’s that time of year to “Get Your Game On” as you support your favorite team. Tailgating parties can range from a simple cold picnic to an elaborate all day cooking and eating affair. The average number of tailgating events attended by a committed fan is 3 to 4 per season.  The average number of people at a tailgating party is 12 -14.  My brother and his wife live in Blacksburg and are avid Hokie fans.  They set up their tailgate party to welcome back their out of town friends for game day. Here are some tips for successful tailgating.

Pre-gaming prep for your “big” event should include practical and safety measures.

  1. Things to pack: disposable napkins, plates, sturdy cups, utensils and toothpicks.
  2. Bring a plastic tablecloth, clean flat sheet or blanket to lay out your wares.
  3. Have a plan to keep hot food hot or cold food cold.
  4. Consider a variety of finger foods in manageable proportions.
  5. Prepare food ahead of time, pack and be ready to roll.
  6. If you are grilling at your party remember to be safe with charcoal fires.  Bring a small fire extinguisher, just in case.
  7. When covering dishes for transport try these silicone lids that produce a tight seal and eliminate the use of plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
Charles Vianicin, silicone lids, tailgating, party, food

Silicone lids for all your tailgating party dishes!

Even though football games are a Fall sport, many times the Indian summer heat is still around.  There are several new products to help keep the food chilled and safe in transport and during serving.

Brand new to the market place is the Packit freezable chiller bag.  Bye bye to ice packs that only last a few hours.  The bag is the ice pack and stays cold about 10 hours.  Freeze the folded collapsible bag overnight to be ready to go the next day.

Packit, thermal bag, food chiller

Packit chiller bags keep food cold without the need for ice. Pre-chill, pre-game and be safe!

There are many chill and go serving items.  Here are two which use ice in a reservoir under the food to keep food cold.  Arrange your shrimp tray or place your dip in the container, cover and transport in a cooler.  Add ice to chiller, uncover and serve.  How easy!

tailgating, party, chiller dishes, iced dip dish,

This divided dish can double as an ice reservoir for keeping seafood and perishables cold through the pre-game party. Small dip server also uses ice to keep creamy dips chilled.

Wraps are a trendy way to prepare sandwiches.  Here is an easy cold cut sandwich using a mustard sauce as the condiment for safe tailgating.  For the recipe visit Chef Yvonne’s blog:

Wrap sandwich, parchment paper, tailgating made easy, wrap recipe

Quick and easy wrap sandwiches make prep easy.

Last but not least…always wear your team colors!  If you need help remembering how to be a Hokie, Wolfpack or Tarheel bring these plaques to help everyone in your party recite the rules together.

Collegiate, Va Tech, NC State, UNC, rules, school colors, wall art

Collegiate, Va Tech, NC State, UNC, rules, school colors, wall art

CHEER for your team:

Yell for the (name of your team)
We can’t be beat
So watch out (your opponent)
We’ll knock you off your feet!

What is your special tradition for your team’s game day?  Special t-shirt, special recipe, special team emblem or whatever…

Have a great tailgating day whether watching from your easy chair at Lake Gaston or your favorite stadium lot!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!



Porch Makeover in a Flash!

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Here’s your chance to see a recent re-design of an outdoor living space.  This Lake Gaston client’s porch needed some updating and color which we are always happy to deliver.  Although it appears to happen in a blink, this was actually the result of months of planning, but it was all worth it!  Enjoy this glimpse into our process:

How could you change up your outdoor living space?  Let us know, we’d love to help!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!


Design Tips to Borrow

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2013 Pasadena Showcase House of DesignI just returned from a wonderful week in Santa Monica, CA visiting our son Jake and his wife, Elif.  Little did I know the weekend would become a design adventure.  Knowing that Paul and Jake had plenty to do with two motorcycles handy, the girls set off to visit the 2013 Pasadena Showcase House of Design.

The setting of this year’s event was a beautiful estate built-in 1941 in Arcadia, CA.  The show house was gracefully restored with modern amenities and conveniences with attention to details that reflected the period.

The photographs shown here were all taken from the Showcase guide.  The design firms for each area are noted on the pictures.  There were so many special spaces and so many wonderful details.  I selected the following to point out design tips that could be recreated in any setting.

2013 Pasadena Showcase House of Design

Front Stairwell

The walls of the beautiful vaulted front entry stairwell were covered with winter wheat colored fabric that provided an understated neutral palette to lead the way to the incredible rooms to come. The glass chandelier was amazing!

Design tip:   The details of the stairway runner.  It was bound in leather and tacked down with larger upholstery nail heads.  The nail heads do not show in this photo.  This look could easily be re-created by binding the runner in a wide fabric binding and adding the nail heads.


2013 Pasadena Showcase House of Design

Powder Room

From the designer’s perspective the powder room was designed to recall your first jewelry box full of wonder and magic.  It was wonderfully executed with the stone chevron detail of the mirror, the gold accents and the skirted vanity.

Design tip:  The chevron detail could be recreated with the use of fabric or paint.  The tailored skirt detail could be applied to any countertop surface to create a feel of elegance.



2013 Pasadena Showcase House of DesignFamily Room

The owners requested the space be expanded to incorporate the bar with lighted green glass details that was installed in 2000 Designer Showcase.  A wall was removed and left two different ceiling heights.

In order to draw attention away from this the ceiling was embellished with intricate patterned molding, textured wallpaper and dramatic lighting.

Design tip:  Don’t forget the ceiling.  It does not have to be this elaborate. You can achieve an amazing effect by adding some well design molding detail, texture with paint or paper and/or the right lighting… remember attention to details.

2013 Pasadena Showcase House of Design


Master Bedroom

Soft, serene color palettes were used throughout the house.  Here in the master bedroom soft blues and gold set the mood.

Design tip:  Find the right color that appeals to you and create a master space that allows for restful, blissful sleep. 



2013 Pasadena Showcase House of Design

Teenage Daughter’s Room

What teenage girl would not die for a room like this?  There were feminine touches everywhere with varying shades of lavender and wonderful details.

Design tip:  The existing bookcases flanking the sides of the bed were turned into creative niches to hold accessories, trinkets and baubles of any teen’s fancy.  This could be applied to any bookcase by designing a plan to convert the bookcase interior with shelving boards.



2013 Pasadena Showcase House of Design

Guest Room

This guest room was designed to incorporate the eves and slopes of the ceiling.  Many built-ins provided ample storage and some hidden details.

Design tip:  The TV was recessed in the wall and hidden by a hinged piece of art. The small TV was mounted in the recessed area on a swivel-tilt wall mount so it could be positioned to suit the guest’s viewing needs.



2013 Pasadena Showcase House of DesignGuest  Reading Suite

This space was originally the servant’s quarters.  It has been transformed into a space to work, converse, relax and sleep.  The textured wall, molding details, fabrics and accessories set the tone.

Design tip:  A queen size bed was turned horizontal and tuck up against the wall to create a lavish day bed.  This could be done with a twin or double bed as well.  It definitely achieved the designer’s goal of a multi use relaxing space.


2013 Pasadena Showcase House of DesignOffice Bath

There were many lavish baths throughout the house but this smaller scale space contained some wonderful details.   The blue painted cabinet with slab inset doors and simple but interesting hardware blends seamlessly with the white marble countertop and adjacent shower wall.  I love how the glass shower wall just seems to float on the white wall.  The tile details were very subtle but tied the entire space together.

Design tip:  Simple details like the door pulls can add so much.  The tile border place high and low is a great placement and creates a feeling of more height in the shower.  Think about creative ways to use an interesting tile accent in a different way.


2013 Pasadena Showcase House of DesignGuest Room

This room included the use of lots of different textures… on the wall, bed and floor.  I love this mingle of tactile fabrics to make you want to reach out and touch every detail. The very tall headboard was a little over scaled for the space but the reading nook was very creative.

Design tip:  The reading nook was formerly a closet.  What a great adaptation of a small space.  You may not have an extra closet to give up but think outside the box when confronted with a use for a small difficult space.


2013 Pasadena Showcase House of DesignGarage 
What an amazing makeover of the original three car garage!  The guys from the firm Garage Envy incorporated so many interesting details into this space.  This is certainly not your usual “man cave”.

Design tip:  You may not have that three care garage space to work with but garage organization can be done in many ways.  Take cues from the pros by including storage, entertainment, border floor detail, lighting and seating in your garage makeover.

Our outing to the Designer Showcase was so worth while.  It is something I don’t always take time to do.  Throughout this country there are so many talented designers with thousands of creative ideas.  They invest their time and talents to create beautiful show house spaces.  After writing this blog I will always take a closer look at the details.  The things that can really make the difference in the overall design.  We all can take away a piece of some of these fabulous show house rooms by taking in the details and recreating them in your home.

For more information about the Pasadena Showcase House of Design events:



Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

Summer is quickly approaching and we will be spending more time outdoors around beautiful Lake Gaston.  With some pre-planning and these quick tips, you can be ready to play and enjoy all your outdoor time:

  1. Take In A Breath of Fresh Air:  On warm spring days (before or after pollen season) open your windows, air out your house. Clean and repair screens to enjoy the greatest benefits from the warm breezes.

    Blue Porch Ceiling, Haint Blue, Daylight in Porch

    Blue Porch Ceiling

  2. Clean out the cobwebs:  Clean the ceiling fan blades of dust and cobwebs.   Check that the blades are rotating counter-clockwise for summer air circulation.  In years past, front porch ceilings were painted blue to keep the spiders away.  Last summer, we painted our screened porch ceiling sky blue and our spider population really decreased.  There is an interesting interview on NPR that talks about blue porch ceilings.

    Folklore or not, it is worth a try.

  3. Outdoor Furniture, Comfortable Outdoor Furniture, Homecrest Furniture

    Comfortable Outdoor Furniture

    Comfy Furniture:  To enjoy your leisure time outdoors make sure your furniture is comfortable.  If you can’t invest in the best, start with inexpensive plastic furniture and cushions that you can easily replace when the budget allows.  I invested in our porch furniture over twenty years ago.  Every five to seven years, I have re-covered or replaced the cushions.  Most of our guests say our porch seating is the best seating in the house!

  4. Prep the Grill:    Summertime is barbecue time!  Clean your grill, check the gas ports, fill the propane tank and empty the grease traps.


    Grow Your Own

  5. Grow Your Own:  Whether you have limited space or a large plot, consider growing your own produce.  It can save money, help you eat healthy, limit the pesticides in food and help our planet.  If you are new to vegetable gardening, tomatoes, basil, herbs and lettuce are a few easy veggies to start with.

    Outdoor Lighting, Mason Jar Lighting, String Lights

    Outdoor Lighting

  6. Illuminate the Dark:  For safety’s sake, illuminate all outdoor paths and stairs.  There are many new LED lighting options to efficiently do the job.
  7. Lighten up your Closet:  Move the heavier, darker clothes and boots of winter to the back or far side of your closet.  Make room for the sundresses, flip-flops and bathing suits.
  8. Freshen Up Your Guest Rooms:  Fluff up your bedding and replace your pillows or give them a spin in the dryer on air dry with a fabric dryer sheet.  Add a value priced duvet cover or matelasse coverlet to give a fresh look to the room.
  9. Pump It Up:   Inflate all the water toys and check for leaks.  It’s no fun having the kids all ready for a ride and not have use of their favorite floating vehicle.
  10. Get Your Lounge On!  Put on your shorts or favorite swimsuit, head to the deck or pier and “get your lounge on”.  Enjoy!!!


What do you look forward to most about summer at the lake?  Tell us and maybe we can help you enjoy it even more!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

Check out this video of a recent kitchen project!  Stay tuned for the bloopers at the end!  It’s my favorite part!

This kitchen is a beautiful example of using a neutral color palette with a pop of color.  We developed the plan for this kitchen based on these three goals:

  1. Improve the style and layout of the space.
  2. Update the appliances and fixtures.
  3. Enhance the appearance and function for casual dining.

The neutral color palette developed around the Cold Spring granite countertops.  The perimeter cabinet finish of Polar White w/Slate Glaze and the island finish of Black were the perfect compliments for this granite.

Once the kitchen construction was complete we added decorative glass accessories to the lighted upper cabinets for the pop of red to spice up the room.

We hope you enjoyed the video!

Let us know if we can work with you to add some updating and spice to your space!!!



Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!

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NOW is the time to give Spring a push!

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By this time each year we are tired of the all the uncertain weather, one day cold and wet, the next day sunny and warm.  But Spring is not quite here.  Give it a push by taking a stroll through your garden and find some flowering shrubs or trees that have buds that are starting to bulge with all that wonderful color of Spring. Yellow forsythia, white dogwoods, and fruit trees like quince, cherry, plum, and pear are just a few that respond well to forcing them to bloom indoors.

dogwood, white dogwood,spring flowers,


Take some pruning shears or sharp scissors (for smaller stems) and trim a few choice branches to make an arrangement.  Once inside, under running water, recut each stem and remove all the buds and leaves that will be below the water line.  Recutting the bottom of each branch helps to improve water absorption and encourage early blooms. To help keep the water fresher longer add a little citrus-lime soda. This arrangement should be casual, playful and not too fixed.  You don’t have to be a florist to create a pleasing arrangement of stems.

This time of year, depending on how close they are to blooming, you will probably see flowers within a week or two.

Enjoy your little shot of early Spring.  It is not so far away!

Forsythia, flowering quince, spring blooms, forcing flowers to bloom, casual floral design

Forsythia and flowering quince

Here is a picture of forsythia and flowering quince just opening up in my house!  Enjoy!

Share with us how you are bringing Spring inside your home!

Happy Springtime,



Mary Sherwood Lake Living – working with you to create your lifestyle!





Love is in the Air!

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How can we not talk about Valentine’s Day for this week’s Design Wisdom Wednesday?

Where did the Valentine’s Day customs come from? Find the answer in this interesting article about the origin of Valentine’s Day.

Here are a few of my favorite tidbits taken from this article.

Valentine's Day, love, birds

It was believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

Here are a few easy ways to show your loved ones how much you love them on Valentine’s Day.

Start Valentine’s Day with a special breakfast.  Serve heart shaped pancakes topped with thin slices of roasted pork tenderloin and Tishbi Cherry Shiraz Wine Jelly.  Embellish the plate with fresh strawberries.  It’s pretty and oh so tasty.

pancake, heart shaped pancake, Cherry Shiraz Jelly, strawberries

Valentine’s Day Breakfast


If chocolate is the way to your lover’s heart here is a simple recipe for truffles.  Make ahead, refrigerate and impress your loved ones and friends!

chocolate, truffles, recipe

Chocolate Truffles

For you die-hard chocolate lovers, here’s a treat: the recipe for to-die-for truffles. Go ahead… enjoy!

1 (8-oz.) package fat-free cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
Cocoa powder (optional)

Combine cream cheese, sugar, cocoa powder and extract in a bowl; freeze mixture 30-60 minutes. Remove from freezer and form into 1″ balls; roll in cocoa powder, if desired. Freeze 30 minutes or until firm.

Makes 40 truffles. Nutritional values per truffle: 60 calories and 1 gram fat.

Heart disease, Go Red, Heart, donation American Heart AssociationA wonderful way to recognize a friend or spouse on Valentine’s Day is by making a contribution to the American Heart Association.  This is the 10th year the AHA has celebrated “Wear Red Day”.  Heart disease is the #1 killer of women. It kills more women than all cancers combined.  Donations support medical research, awareness, education and community programs to help women live longer, heart-healthy lives.

What ever way you celebrate Valentine’s Day put a little romance in your life.  Finish off this special day with a Chocolate Kiss Martini!

Roses, chocolate, chocolate kiss cocktail

Flowers, chocolate and romance!

Chocolate Kiss Cocktail 


3 T Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

3 T Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur

1 1/2 T Heavy Cream

Chocolate Syrup

Pink Sugar Crystals


Martini Shaker


Fill shaker 1/2 full with ice cubes

Add first three ingredients

Shake to Chill

Rim chilled glass with chocolate followed by sugar crystals

Pour in chocolate liqueur mix

Garnish with a kiss or a strawberry on a pick

Serve immediately and enjoy!


Happy Valentine’s Day!



Mary Sherwood Lake Living…working with you to create your lifestyle!




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Last night my husband said to me, “you have logged a lot of miles in the last few weeks”.  It made me stop and think about how much had happened in three short weeks.  Here is the timeline:

Dec 20 -28     Roundtrip-Lake Gaston to Santa Monica, CA        5580 miles

Jan 4-6          Roundtrip-Lake Gaston to Baltimore, MD                698 miles

Jan 9-13        Roundtrip-Lake Gaston to Atlanta, GA                   902 miles

The first trip was our holiday trip to visit our son’s home in Santa Monica.  What a wonderful place to spend Christmas.  There is no worry of snow to interfere with travel (except occasionally at a connecting airport).  My daughter-in-law, Elif and I traveled with the top down in her Mini Cooper, named Coco, every outing for groceries and shopping!   I love the casual yet sophisticated lifestyle of Southern California. Here is a picture of some of the highlights of our holiday.  Love, love, love California succulent gardens!



The next trip came oh so quickly after we returned from Cali.  Our good friends, Brenda and Quinn moved into a brand new house just north of Baltimore right before Christmas.  They are still trying to get settled. The workers are still in and out.  We traveled with our trailer full of furniture, accessories and window treatments to help give it the “moved-in” look.  Here are just a few pictures of the fun color pallet Brenda selected.  The colorful Company C furniture fits right in!

Baltimore MD, Company C furniture, decorating with color, Kravet fabric, draperies


We are still recovering from our annual January Atlanta market trip.  The above mileage does not include the miles and miles of market space we walked.  There are about 7 million square feet of showroom space!  It’s no wonder our feet hurt and everything aches after four-12 hour market days!  There are so many things we fell in love with that will be arriving in our store over the next four months.  Here is a picture of just a few of my favorites.

Americasmart, Atlanta, owl accessories, summer 2013, beach cover-ups, handbags, Mary Sherwood Lake Living



We are off to a flying start in 2013.  Jump on board and join us on Facebook, follow our blog and stay tuned for the latest at MSLL!

What would be your favorite adventure of the above three?

Happy 2013!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living…working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Family and My Christmas

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I am getting ready to travel to one of my favorite places, “Santa” Monica, because that is where I will share Christmas with both our sons and two daughters-in-love.  It should be a great week!  Our times together involve a lot of relaxing, eating and sharing stories with the newer members of our family.  It doesn’t matter where we are, we always find these times together so special.

Last night reminded me of what an incredible acquired family I have right here at Lake Gaston.  We had a Christmas dinner at our house for all the MSLL family.  The wonderful, talented people who surrounded me are truly amazing.  It makes it such a pleasure to come to work each and every day.

Paul, Autumn, Lu, Michelle, Peggy and Yvonne thanks so much!

The rest of my acquired family is every one of you who has supported us, shopped in our showroom, cooked in our new kitchen and asked us to help make your home a comfortable, family place.  We have gotten to know you and your family and friends.  The circle just keeps getting bigger. Thank you for enlarging our family!

Make this a holiday to remember with your family whether acquired or by nature.

Here are a few pictures of our MSLL Christmas party.

Christmas, table setting, centerpiece, place settings, napkins, greenery

The Table is Ready!

Christmas,place setting, napkins, twelve days of Christmas, napkin holiday decoration

Each place with a Twelve Days of Christmas glass so all can sing!

Christmas, place settings, napkins, snowflake ornament

Napkins embellished with snowflake ornaments for guests to take home!

Party, acquired family, cocktails

Gathering together!

Holiday dinner, candlelight, friends, family

Enjoying a fabulous meal prepared by Chef Yvonne of Y Cook!

Food, Y Cook, scallops, cured beef tenderloin

The incredible food prepared by Chef Yvonne.

Menu, Y Cook

Our menu by Chef Yvonne and topped off by Steve Hoffman’s “melt in your mouth” Cheesecake with Cherry Zabaglione Sauce. WOW!

Have a wonderful holiday!

Merry Christmas!



Working with you to create your lifestyle!



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Don’t Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle…

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Shopping for a special gift for that special someone?  Looking for the ideal present for the person who has everything?  Don’t get your tinsel in a tangle.  Allow Mary Sherwood Lake Living to help you compile the perfect gift basket.

Are they a wine enthusiast?  We can combine our E-Z Grip Wine Bottle Opener, Wine-A-Rita Drink Mix, and a package of festive napkins to help them celebrate.


Do they enjoy mixing a cocktail or two?  We can combine our Mini Red Ice Bucket, Mini Red Cocktail Shaker, and a jar of Pickle, Olive, and Pearl Onion Cocktail Stirrers to help them conjure up their concoctions.

Are they the chef in their household?  We can combine our famous Captain Rodney’s Boucan Glaze, a White Rectangular Baker, and a Knotted Spreader to aid them in preparing Captain Rodney’s Cheese Bake (recipe included).

Do they just deserve to be spoiled?  We can combine our Azalea/Ruby Dot Glittens (glove and mittens combination), Leopard Ballet Cozy Slippers, and a Jeweled Photo Frame to help comfort them.

Still stumped?  Come visit us at Mary Sherwood Lake Living or give us a call at 252.586.2437 to help you with just the right combination for the loved ones on your list.

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping from Mary Sherwood Lake Living!


Mary Sherwood Lake Living working with you to create your lifestyle!

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Will we become Emerald City?

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As you all know I love color!  Just open your eyes and take in all the colors of nature, fashion, interiors, cars and even appliances.  Even if you prefer the sedate neutrals or soft, soothing pastels, a pop of color is the “spice of life”.

I look forward to the December announcement of the color for the coming year.  Yesterday was the “big reveal”!  The color of the year for 2013 is Pantone 17-5641 Emerald.


I am really a fan of the bright lime greens that have been prevalent for the last several years. They have always paired well with so many other colors.  But I have to admit this bluer, softer form of green has caught my eye in recent market trips.

Although this color is supposed to be “top secret” until it is announced here are a few photos going back to April, 2011 where we have spotted this coming trend.


 High Point Market, Design Legacy, emerald green, signs

 Atlanta Market, Americasmart, K & K Interior, emerald green

High Point Market, Global Views, Color of the Year 2013

High Point Market,Color of the Year 2013, Braxton Culler, Libby Langdon, furniture, emerald green, upholstered headboard


High Point Market,Color of the Year 2013, CR Laine, furniture, emerald green,


Home Accents Today, market finds, emerald green, color of the year 2013



Our display wall in our front room will soon be turned into “Emerald City”!

Do you like the Color of the Year for 2013?  How would you like to use it?

Let us hear your thoughts.


“Working with you to create your lifestyle!”

Mary Sherwood Lake Living




Categories : Design, Mary's Raves
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Do you want to know Designer Secrets?

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Every designer has their own “little secrets” for making their projects shine!  Recently I found these 101 Designer Secrets in the May, 2012 issue of House Beautiful magazine to be quite interesting.

Here are my top five picks.  What are yours?

#11        The ideal height to hang your flat screen TV is at eye level when you’re in viewing position.  The ideal viewing distance is 1 ½ times the size of your flat screen.  Designer: Jean Larette

#29        Dining Room Chandeliers should be 60” to 66” above the floor.  Designer: Betsy Burnham

#35        I get bored without color in a room.  Interesting, strong, clear colors are easier to live with in the long run than pale colors.  People always think it’s the opposite, but in actuality soft colors get boring much quicker.  Designer: Richard Keith Langham

#41        Limit overhead can lighting to functional areas such as bathrooms and laundry rooms—the light is too harsh and flat for your living space.  Designer: Timothy Corrigan

#55        When ordering fabric, add two yards to the final order.  You never want to be stuck with a ruined cushion and a discontinued fabric on a piece of upholstery. Call it insurance against a rainy-red-wine day.  Designer J. Randall Powers


Click on the block below to read all the 101 secrets!  Please comment with your favorites!

HINT: Press the control key and + key together several time to enlarge the image.

A special thanks to Eva, from House Beautiful reader services, for providing the pdf. file of the secrets.



Mary Sherwood Lake Living

Working with you to create your lifestyle!



Categories : Mary's Raves
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What’s Red and Walks Over Water?

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The Walking Red

What’s red and can walk over water?  The MSLL Walking Red Team at the annual O’Sail CrossingGo team!

The annual O’Sail event, The Crossing, is quickly approaching.  August 11 is this year’s date.  It is a great family event.  You can swim, paddle, float or walk across the lake. Pick your pleasure!

Several years ago I wanted to be more a part of the Crossing. I chose to stay high and dry and walk the bridge. Collecting a few friends we created the Walking Red Team.  So now is the time to join us to walk over the water of Lake Gaston.  Wear something red to be part of our team.  We will meet at 8:30 at The Point side of Eaton’s Ferry Bridge.

You will need to pre-register on line,  Entries are $20 pre-register, and $25 day of event. All entries include a T-shirt and refreshments at the finish line provided by the Food Lion.

Join the fun and support the community services supported by O’Sail!!!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living, Lake Gaston, The Crossing, Walking Red Team

MSLL Walking Red Team, 2012

The Crossing, Lake Gaston, Drugco,

Team DrugCo with their water vehicle, 2011

Paddle boat, Miss Daisy, Lake Gaston, The Crossing

Drivin' Miss Daisy across the lake-by her son, 2011

Hope you will join us for the fun!



Call if you need more info:  252-586-2437


Mary Sherwood Lake Living

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Swing into Summer…

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Love the fabrics and the ropes! Photo from This Old House

Just imagine. It’s a quiet, lazy afternoon at Lake Gaston. You are worn out from a busy work week and it’s time to relax. Grab your book and head to the porch or covered deck, climb into your porch swing bed and your week’s demands just fade away. Get the picture?

Remembering my grandmother’s front porch swing makes this new swing version so appealing to me. There are many different varieties and styles. I love the idea of mixing outdoor fabrics, colors and patterns to create your own outdoor look. Here are a few of my favorites.

Show your patriotic colors. Photo by PB

Double Swing Bed Duty Photo from Coastal Living

Modern Porch Swing

Porch bed swings are one of my favorite new trends. I am “dreaming” of where I may use one of these!
If you do not have the space or budget for the swing bed there are other options to help you relax in motion. The “front porch” swing styles have evolved with many choices of wood, wicker, metal or poly-wood. Add your cushions for comfort and color and you have created your own outdoor oasis.

Comfy swing chair for the garden by Magnolia Casuals

A smaller and comfortable swing option is the fabric swing chair.  It is available in a wide variety of colorful outdoor fabrics.

Once you have selected your way of “swinging into summer” here are a few tips to get a longer life out of your outdoor swing cushions or any outdoor fabric products:

  1. Use outdoor fabrics made of 100% acrylic or 100% spun polyester fiber. There are several types of outdoor fabrics with Sunbrella solution dyed acrylic being the industry leader. Please note that outdoor fabrics are water repellant not water proof.
  2. Never leave your outdoor cushions out when expecting excessive rain. Although outdoor fabrics are meant to stand up to all weather conditions, saturating the fabric with water will make the cushions harder to dry.
  3. Outdoor cushions can be made with fast-draining marine foam if they will remain outside for long periods to decrease drying time and help prolong their life.
  4. Most outdoor fabrics are mildew resistant; however, mildew will grow on dirt and oil. Keep your fabrics clean by using a solution of liquid dish detergent and warm water to clean away dirt and dust.
  5. For stubborn stains on Sunbrella fabrics, add bleach to the soap and water solution, or use a fabric spot remover. Sunbrella acrylic fabrics are not damaged by bleach.
  6. Stains on printed acrylic fabric can usually be removed with a mild soap-and-water solution. Do not use bleach on printed acrylic fabrics, as it will fade the printed pattern.
  7. Keep suntan oil off the fabric. Suntan oil can stain outdoor fabrics. If stained with suntan oil, remove by using a commercial spot remover for grease stains. Follow the instructions on the bottle.
  8. Try to put your patio cushion away when not in use. Storing your outdoor cushions will increase the time your fabric stays new and vibrant. Take your cushions in for winter, then let them back out again for summer.

Here are some helpful links for more different swing bed style and a DIY video about constructing your own outdoor bed!


Happy swinging and outdoor “Lake Living”!



Now you see it, now you don’t!

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Summer at Lake Gaston is quickly approaching. With summer come visits from lots of family and friends.  That’s what lake living is all about.

 Where, oh where do you bed down all these visitors?

 With the use of a Murphy convertible bed you can create a multifunctional space that helps to ease the sleeping predicament.  

Murphy bed, convertible sleep, extra sleeping space

Now you see it...instant guest sleeping space!

Murphy bed, extra sleeping space, multifunctional room, conversion rooms

Now you don't...sleeping space hidden behind closed doors!

Murphy bed, guest bed,

Now you see it! Hidden bed all ready for guests!

Murphy bed, decorative shelving, hidden bed

Now you don' one would ever know that behind these decorative shelves lies a bed in waiting!

Do you have a need for extra sleeping space?  Where would you like to incorporate a Murphy bed?

Let’ hear your comments!


Categories : Design, Mary's Raves
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formica countertop

Before photo of original countertop

Lake Gaston is a great place to live!  Living on the lake attracts lots of family and friends which provide lots of reasons to entertain.

In this project, to help our client entertain in style, we updated this wet bar.

We replaced the standard Formica countertop with this gorgeous piece of glass, then backlit the countertop with warm LED lighting.  We added a ceramic and glass mosaic tile backsplash to complete the look.  The results are stunning!

glass counter top installed with backlighting

Glass countertop with LED lighting

Whether you’re looking for a conversation starter or it’s just time to update your wet bar, man cave, or even your counter down at the dock, this is a great way to transform a countertop into a unique component in your design.

How would you incorporate a backlit countertop into a  project?

Let’s hear your ideas!

Happy lake living!

glass countertop, LED lighting, wet bar, renovation

Close up view of this gorgeous countertop

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Loving Tile Dots!

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In our new demonstration kitchen we found a wonderful new accent tile to incorporate in our design. Tile Dots are created by ceramic artist Kim McGinnis of Rocky Mount, NC. This is a truly custom product. There are over 30 colors to choose from. Mix and match the size and colors of the dots. Add an accent shape for a coastal or nature look. We can help you create the perfect tile accent design for your kitchen or bath project. But don’t stop with the kitchen or bath…how about a table top of tile dots or a small accent wall in a niche? Let’s explore the possibilities!

Watch this video as Autumn tells us all about Tile Dots!

How creative can you be?  How would you like to use Tile Dots?

We love your comments!



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A 3 Pepper Blast Party

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WOW-another fun event at MSLL. The food was fabulous, the CAbi fashion was great and fun was had by all.  Thanks Peggy Howard for the fashion and Autumn for the kitchen assistance.

I have been (willfully) coerced into publishing the recipes from tonight’s Fun, Food and Fashion event  ASAP. 🙂  One of the girls is dying to recreate the party appetizers for an upcoming event.  Here is the simple, throw together, easy party menu.

It all begins with one key ingredient…3 Pepper Blast Dip

dip, pepper dip, party, food, fun, easy recipes


Toasted Flatbread Wrap Chips with Magic Unicorn Salt

3 Pepper Blast Cheese Dip

Chicken and Cheese Roll-up Wraps

Puff Pastry Peach Cobbler Tarts with Vanilla Ice Cream  (recipe not included)



Toasted Flatbread Wrap Chips with Magic Unicorn Salt

Use the flatbread wrap of your choice (available in the deli section of our local FL).

Lightly coat one side of the wrap with seasoned vegetable spray or a light brushing of olive oil

Add a light sprinkle of the flavored Magic Unicorn salt (remember it’s magic!)

If you are out of “magic”,  any salt or seasoning of your choice will work

Cut into squares with a serrated knife or pizza cutter.  The squares do not have to be perfect.

Place on parchment paper covered baking sheet.

Bake 10 – 15 min at 350 degrees.  Ovens will vary so at 10 minutes check for crispness and light browning.  Do not let them get too brown. Let cool on baking sheet.

One flatbread wrap makes approx. 36 chips.

Serve with 3 Pepper Cheese Dip.


3 Pepper Cheese Dip

8 oz  Cream Cheese or Reduced Fat Cream Cheese

8 oz  White Sharp Cheddar Cheese

1  12 oz jar of 3 Pepper Blast Dip

Let cream cheese soften.

Grate white cheddar cheese.

Combine the cheeses and the 3 Pepper Blast Dip.

Serve with Toasted Flatbread Wrap Chips with Magic Unicorn Salt.

Ingredients can be cut in half to reduce quantity of dip.

Full recipe serves a crowd.


Chicken and Cheese Mini Roll-up Wraps

Flat bread wraps

3 Pepper Blast Cheese Dip (from recipe above)

4 Chicken tenders lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, sautéed and finely chopped

½ cup grated white cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese

Optional extras:  chopped cilantro, green onions, sliced avocados

Spread one side of a flat bread wrap with 3 Pepper Blast Cheese Dip, keeping dip within about 1” of the edge of the wrap.  Layer on top of dip about 2 tablespoons of chopped chicken, sprinkle with grated cheese.  Roll the wrap and secure with 4 mini skewers or bamboo knot picks.  Trim unfilled ends, if necessary.  Carefully cut remainder into four equal pieces.

Place on parchment covered baking sheet.  Drizzle each mini roll up with 1 teaspoon salsa and a sprinkle of grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 -15 minutes.

Garnish with more salsa, if desired.

Each wrap makes 4 mini roll-ups.  Repeat as needed.


Have a blast at your 3 Pepper Blast Party!



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OH! Christmas Trees!!!

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Yes, friends there will be a Christmas tree at the Sherwood’s Lake Gaston home this Christmas!  Some of our friends were beginning to worry there would not be any sign of holiday cheer at our house by the time our family arrives.  Have no fear, we once again have a “live” Christmas tree.  Here is the story…

Being in the retail and design business we are often very busy at this time of year.  As our business and children were growing up and time was at a premium, Aaron and Jake began to question “if” and what kind of tree we would have.  Traditionally it was always a live tree, sometimes collected from a local tree farm or the local Jaycee’s lot.  In 2002, having waited until the last minute, I rushed to Wildwood Nursery in search of a live tree.  They were too large, too tall or too expensive, so I had to re-group.  Wondering through the nursery I spotted a Pom Pom Topiary Juniper.   It was not very big but had a very interesting shape.  Could I make this work as a Christmas tree?  I am always up for a challenge!  My youngest son, Jake, at that time, always arrived home for Christmas late in the night from NJ.  I had promised him a real tree!  So, he first laid eyes on this tree while everyone else was sleeping.  In the morning he said, “Mom, what have you done?  You decorated a “broccoli” tree for Christmas! Thus the saga of the potted Christmas trees began.  Here is the pictorial version of the saga from 2002 to today,


Broccoli tree, Christmas tree, holiday decorations

2002 "Broccoli" Tree

So this past weekend once again we set out on the quest for a tree.  Again Wildwood Nursery was able to oblige.    We found a beautiful potted ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Cypress tree about 5’ tall.  This type of Cypress is a very airy looking tree with aromatic, pale blue-grey foliage.  Because the foliage is so wispy, developing a decorating scheme took some thought.


Carolina Cypress, Mary Sherwood, Christmas tree,

The beginnings of the 2011 Sherwood Christmas tree, a 'Carolina Sapphire' Cypress

I began with the lights placed close to the trunk.  Tulle mesh ribbon in three colors, white, red and turquoise, and lime stretchy ribbon was added for the garland.  Last but certainly not least, an assortment of light weight glass ornaments created the finishing touch!


glass ornaments, saxophone Christmas ornament

Added sparkle and shine with light weight glass ornaments to the 2011 tree.

Carolina Cypress, Christmas Tree, potted evergreen tree,

Carolina Cypress 2011 Christmas Tree

glass baubles, art glass, Christmas lights, color for Christmas

Glass baubles and lights for the mantel!

Christmas decorations, Handrail Christmas decorations, turquoise, lime green

Added a touch of turquoise this year.

art glass, lamp, Christmas ornament, dragonfly

An art glass lamp even gets some Christmas adornment

Yes, we do have a tree and a few other Christmas baubles and bangles.

Thank you for reading this story!  It helped me remember how precious these holiday memories will always be in our lives with the people we love.

Enjoy your holidays wherever you may be.  Make some memories!


Sherwood family, memories, Los Angeles, Museum of Modern Art

The Sherwoods visiting the LA Museum of Modern Art, Christmas, 2010

Merry Christmas!

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Be Thankful Food Drive

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As we are preparing for a wonderful Christmas holiday with family and friends we should take a minute to remember that not everyone will be able to have a bountiful feast.  Our “Be Thankful” FOOD DRIVE is one way we can help.  We have selected the Bethlehem Food Pantry of the First United Methodist Church of Roanoke Rapids as our benefactor.  We will be collecting food items through Dec 21.  We challenge you to help us reach our goal of at least 25 bags of the twelve food items listed below.

Here are a few facts about this ministry and the items they particularly need.

The Bethlehem Food Pantry

food drive, thankful, holiday,

Did you know that from April 7, 2009 to December 22, 2010:

We have helped a total of 805 families in the Roanoke valley?

These families consist of 2024 individuals, including 647 children under the age of 18?

These families also include 239 seniors over the age of 62. In 2009 we served 240 families averaging 58 per month.

In 2010, we gave 2403 bags of food to 719 hungry families in great need, averaging 200 per month.

This past year, The Panty has distributed $27,109 worth of canned/dry food, plus hundreds of donated items to our clients
The present cost per family is approximately $11.  Each family receives 1 bag of food consisting of:

1 box of cereal

1 can of spaghetti sauce

1 box of spaghetti

3 cans of vegetables

1 can baked beans

1 box of saltine crackers

1 can of fruit

1 jar of peanut butter

1 box of Mac & cheese

1 6-pack Ramen Noodles

Other non-perishable will also be accepted.

Thank you for your contributions!

Wishing you a very joyous holiday!

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Pink Pumpkin Party at Lake Gaston

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What is a Pink Pumpkin Party? It is a party to honor and remember all the women in our lives who have fought the fight of breast cancer.  Saturday, October 15th, we’ll paint pumpkins pink, fix some pink wine-a-ritas, eat some pink food and help to raise money for breast cancer research. What could be a better way to help a cause that has touched us all.  This event is dedicated to my mom, Frances Peed, who was a 20 year breast cancer survivor!pumpkins, pink, breast cancer ribbon,benefit, lake gaston, mary sherwood lake living

Traci, Autumn and Mary will be busy painting pink pumpkins. Ribbon, paint, and markers will be available for you to decorate your own pumpkin if you like. The small pre-painted pink pumpkins or the pumpkins you decorate will be sold for a $10 donation to Susan G Komen for the Cure.  We will even have a special pink pumpkin filled with lots of MSLL goodies to be raffled off to raise more contributions.

One other item we’ll have available is Say I Won’t Beat Cancer t-shirts. This company is owned by Brett Walker, Joyce Walker’s son. (Yes, our Lake Gaston Weight Watchers lady) His company routinely supports good causes like this. We will have a very limited supply on hand. If you would like to pre-order a t-shirts or tank for $15.00 in your size please contact us.t-shirt, say I won't, cancer, benefit, lake gaston, mary sherwood lake living

Don’t miss the fun!

Saturday, October 15, 11 am – 3 pm.

You might take home the special pink pumpkin!

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Help Us Fill “Hope Filled” Handbags!

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Good day to all our Mary Sherwood Lake Living family!

What a beautiful Labor day weekend!  We hope everyone is begining to recover from the power outages, downed trees, structural damage and spoiled food.  With this in mind we want to do something to help a local agency.  This may not relate to the Hurricane Irene disaster but it does help with an often silent domestic crisis.  Everyday women and children are searching for a way to escape domestic abuse and violence.  Hannah’s Place, a non-profit shelter in Roanoke Rapids, is there to help.

Our event “Hope Filled Handbag Exchange” will benefit Hannah’s Place.  When a woman arrives at the shelter they receive a handbag filled with personal toiletries.  Our goal is to collect and fill 30 or more handbags to donate to Hannah’s Place.

To kick off our efforts please join us for wine and appetizers from 5 to 7 PM, Thursday, September 22.  A representative from Hannah’s House will be present to tell us more about this worthy cause.

To thank you for your “nearly new” handbag donation to Hannah’s Place you will receive a $10 MSLL gift card to use towards a new fall handbag or fashion accessory of your choice.  We will also collect toiletries to stock the handbags.  A list of the needed toiletries is below

Needed Toiletry Items:
Toothbrush                   Toothpaste               Mouthwash
Shampoo                          Soap                Sanitary napkins
Lotion                             Comb                         Brush
Shower Cap                  Deodorant

We hope you will join us on September 22 for some fun and socializing to support a worthy cause.


Click here to check out our video:     MSLL Girls-Out with the Old…In with the New!

handbags, hope, women's shelter, lake gaston, mary sherwood, event, appetizers, wine

Hope and Handbags!

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Fishy Things are Happening at Lake Gaston

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What is so fishy?  There are a number of strange “albino fish” in our warehouse crying to be embellished!  When will these fish be ready to start making appearances all around the Roanoke Valley?  Read on to learn more.

albino rockfish

Albino rockfish desperately needing some color!

On Saturday, August 13, at 11 AM watch these fish be transformed by two very talented artists, Traci Watson (yes, our staff member) and visiting artist, Madison Latimer, after the 7th Annual O’Sail Crossing event.   Join us for fun, food, art and more!!!!

Traci Watson is a talented artist exploring many aspects of the decorative arts.  She is skilled in decorative painting, murals, faux finishing, furniture painting and custom art work.  Her love is shabby chic and re-purposing of materials.  By day she is our showroom sales and merchandising coordinator.   By night she is an artist mom, interior design student and home restoration handy woman.  With her busy schedule it is hard to image she has time to paint but painting is her passion. Here are a few examples of her work.

Lake Gaston’s Frequent Visitor-The Great Blue Heron

Colorful rainbow fish!

Madison Latimer, Patsy and I crossed paths many years ago at the Virginia Beach Boardwalk Art Show.  We were so excited about the color and energy in her art.  We both had to have some pieces for our showroom and our homes.  Patsy designed her kitchen renovation around the guinea hen art.  I have two of Madison’s bar art in my home.  We recently reconnected because of Facebook. J  She is still painting, loving her garden and farm and driving her “chicken” truck to art shows all over the country.  We are so pleased to have her join us for the The Roanoke Valley Rocks Rockfish Painting Demonstration.  Look for her huge chicken truck and funky art.

The chicken truck and her cargo!

Cocktails, anyone?

Saturday, August 13th is going to be an exciting day of non-stop events for Lake Gaston.

8:15        Join the “Waking Red” MSLL team at our shop to walk across Eaton Ferry bridge in the O’Sail Crossing.  The Crossing registration  is required.

The Crossing 2010 “Walking Red” MSLL Team

Team members are asked to wear something red. There will be a  special gift for  joining the MSLL team

9:00        7th Annual Lake Gaston Crossing fundraiser presented by non-profit organization, O’Sail.  Swim, paddle or walk across Lake Gaston.  Beginning at Morning Star Marina and finishing at Watersview Restaurant

11:00      “Roanoke Valley Rocks” fish painting demo at Mary Sherwood Lake Living. Meet the artists, purchase their art and have lots of fun, food and drink.  LIKE US on our Facebook Page: and you will see all the latest at MSLL.

1:30        SUNNY, the O’Sail’s rockfish will be released at the O’Sail Lake Gaston kiosk in the Food Lion shopping center, 2455 Eaton Ferry Road, Littleton.

So things are very fishy around Lake Gaston this weekend.

“The Rock the Roanoke Valley”  Rockfish campaign go to:

Can’t wait to see you on Saturday!

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In the process of using this recipe for the wedding cake I calculated how many cups of cheesecake batter there are in one recipe.

cheesecake, wedding cake, perfect cheesecake, strawberry sauce

Strawberry Wedding Cheesecake

Each recipe make 2 1/2 cups.  In a 9″ springform pan this makes a 2″ high cake including crust.

To adjust height of cake add more batter and increase cooking time.

You can calculate the different amount of batter needed for various size pans by using a ratio.

9″ pan -2 1/2 cups

8″ pan-2 1/4 cups

6″pan-1 3/4 cups

These amounts are rounded up to make it easy to measure.

There are three key elements to making a perfect cheesecake:

1.  Spray the springform pan very well with Baker’s Joy so cake slides easily off of bottom of pan

2.  Use low heat, 300 degrees, to prevent the top from browning.

3.  Cool gradually as suggested in recipe


Good luck with this!



Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Adapted from Cooking Light, May, 2006

Approximately 16 serving with sauce



1/4 cup sugar

8 graham cracker rectangles

Dash of salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons of butter or canola oil

Cooking spray w/flour (such as Baker’s Joy)



1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 (8-ounce) blocks 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup (4 ounces) regular cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dash of salt

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon of grated lemon jest

4 large eggs

2 egg whites



4 cups sliced strawberries (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 cup strawberries, cut in half

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350°.


To prepare cheesecake crust, place 1/4 cup sugar, graham crackers, cinnamon and dash salt in a food

processor; process until mixture resembles sand.  With the processor on, add 2

tablespoons melted butter through food chute, processing until blended. Generously coat pan with cooking spray with flour.   Firmly press mixture into bottom and slightly up sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes until just golden brown; cool completely on a wire rack.


Reduce oven to 300°.


To prepare cheesecake, combine 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and a dash of

salt in a large bowl. Add softened cheeses; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed

until smooth. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add vanilla, 1 teaspoon juice and lemon zest;

beat just until combined. Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating after each addition

just until incorporated.


Bake at 300° for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until center of cheesecake barely moves when pan is touched. (Oven temperatures vary.  Cooking time may need to be adjusted).  Turn oven off. Cool cheesecake in closed oven 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. Run a knife around outside edge. Cool on a wire rack. Gradual cooling is important to prevent cracks in the cheesecake. Cover and refrigerate.  Can be frozen up to 3 months in tightly sealed aluminum foil and a zip lock bag.


To prepare strawberry sauce, reserve 1 cup strawberries, cut in half.  Combine 4 cups sliced strawberries, 1/2 cup water, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing lightly with a spatula; discard solids. Return mixture to pan. Combine 1 tablespoon water and 2 teaspoons cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Transfer mixture to a bowl; cool to room temperature. Stir in 2 teaspoons lemon juice.  Embellish top of cheesecake with strawberries, cut in half.  Spoon 1/2 of strawberry sauce on top.  When serving, drizzle each slice with a little of reserved sauce.



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Just returned from the NYC wedding of my son, Aaron and Kiori.  It was such a beautiful day, beautiful setting and very beautiful wedding!  I have a lot to share about the wedding but Autumn wants a quick article to attach to our newsletter so here is the scoop about the “infamous” wedding cheesecake.

The most popular desserts in the Sherwood household are brownies and strawberry cheesecake.  Many years ago, when traveling from Lake Gaston to NYC to meet our other son’s (Jake) in-laws, I carried a frozen cheesecake by Amtrak train only to have it totally thawed and strawberry sauce dipping all over as I presented it to our host.  It’s hard to make a good first impression when your perfect cheesecake is soooo less than perfect!  When Aaron and Kiori requested a cheesecake wedding cake I began to research how to construct this cake, store until needed, transport from NC to NYC and assemble in Central Park.  It was quit a challenge.  I won’t bore you with all the details but I would like to share these pictures.


Cheesecake crust, graham cracker crust, spring form pan, cheesecake

Graham cracker crust made for the all the layers at one time in spring form pans


Cheesecake batter, cream cheese, electric mixer, Red KitchenAid Mixer

Cheesecake batter blended until very creamy


Cheesecake without cracks, baking, cake, wedding cheesecake

Baked cheesecakes on cooling rack. cracks!!!

wedding wedding signs, cooler, wedding supplies

Blue rolling cooler packed with cheesecakes and dry ice waiting with other supplies to enter Central Park


cheesecake wedding cake assembly, cheesecake, spring form pans,

Removing spring form pans and assembling the frozen cheesecake layers

layered cheesecake, wedding cake, strawberries

Layered cheesecake starting to be embellished.


Cheesecake, wedding cake, strawberry sauce, strawberry sauce drizzle, pink hydrangea

Strawberries with drizzles of strawberry sauce and a perfect pink hydrangea flower on top

cheesecake, strawberry sauce, baby breath, hydrangea

The finished wedding cake complete with baby's breath!


Wedding cake, cake cutting

Aaron and his Japanese bride, Kiori cutting the wedding cake

wedding cake, first bite

First Bite!!!

The "after" with only the "less than perfect" bottom layer left over. Whew!

This was quite a challenge but mission accomplished!

Like us on our Facebook fan page to see the recipe

Mary Sherwood Lake Living,

Please tell me your best and worst cheesecake adventures!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living…working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and beyond!


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Well, here I am in New Jersey getting my elder son married off. It hadn’t occurred to me that it’s happening the same weekend as the Royal Wedding across the pond.  The ladies are all a-twitter about both weddings… and I’m wondering how much more of this I can take!

paul, wedding, men,

Paul has had enough!

Mary and I are staying with my sister Anne and her husband Val who both appear to be stars in NBC. Maybe you might be interested in what’s happening to my sister.

Twenty-five years ago, Anne hired on to NBC as a temp in the clerk pool. Today she is a full Vice President in charge of Affiliate Marketing. As such she gets some VERY cool opportunities.

Take, for example, the Royal Wedding. She is in charge of NBC’s affiliate support of the wedding. As such she developed part of NBC’s website for the wedding, If you find a page with some dinner ware (in the Royal Wedding etiquette section) you’ll be looking at my sister’s actual china and silver used in a shoot at NBC studios in Rockefeller Center. Anne’s staff did the research for all you find under all the different tabs. On top of that (and this was pretty cool) we’re sitting in her living room watching the event (on NBC’s Today show of course) and she’s reading us e-mails she’s getting from NBC reporters, producers and technical staff on site live at the wedding. Even now she’s sitting there sending instructions to her staff to update photographs and copy of the gown and the wedding cakes and the tiara. Check this out:

In the past I’ve known her to have command of the NBC corporate jet to travel around the country promoting programs.

So what about my “little” sister do I like the best? Well, two years ago she and I did a motorcycle ride through the Adirondacks in upstate New York. We rode 750 miles and saw some of the most beautiful country God has seen fit to create! It was a marvelous, nostalgic, tour of the area in which she and I vacationed as children. I was emotional during much of the ride and made the comment to her about how this was a “once-in-a-lifetime”ride. Her response, “Why once??” We’re currently planning another ride…where? Well, we’re not quite sure yet. Wherever it turns out to be…it’ll be magical.

I love you, Sis.

Paul and his sister, Ann

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The Orchid Trail

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As most of my readers know I have a love for all things with flowers…growing them, decorating with them and enjoying them! But I became a real fan of orchids about ten years ago when I was given my first orchid plant by my very good friend and neighbor, Nancy.  The first time it re-bloomed I was ecstatic! This has lead me to this place and time where this orchid trail begins. About a month ago with our good friends, Brenda and Quinn, we made a day trip to the Philadelphia International Flower Show. (Please don’t tell any of Paul’s motorcycle friends that he went to a “flower show”)  All I can say is WOW!  There are so many fabulous things I could tell you about this exhibition.  But I will focus on the magnificent orchid display for this post.  Click on this link to view a short video of the greenhouse: Orchid Greenhouse at the Philadelphia Garden Show

After viewing the fabulous array in Philly I was not satisfied with my few healthy, re-blooming Phalaenopsis orchids and a few other orchids that looked very pitiful.  Local resources for orchids are limited.  So as Paul’s birthday present to me we embarked on an orchid trail.  We already had plans to rendezvous with Paul’s brother in DC for his birthday so we plotted our trail from DC to Lake Gaston.  Somewhere on our way back home we were going to buy my birthday present.  As luck would have it, our first stop  in Vienna, VA was a winner.  Orchids For You,  a cute little orchid showroom, was tucked backed in a retail/commercial  office district, which seemed an unlikely spot for an orchid greenhouse.  As we walked in I was amazed at what was inside.  After discussing my home environment with Tom, the knowledgeable owner, we decided Phalaenopsis (the easiest orchid to grow) was definitely my kind of orchid.  It likes bright light and “semi-attention”, that is, watering only when it is almost dry if it is potted in a bark/moss medium.  Paul and I began to make our selections.  Paul, being color blind, reacts to flowers so differently than I do.  I never dreamed I would be orchid shopping with Paul.  Over the many years of our partnership in life we have each come to respect each other’s interests.  No, I am not ready to travel on the back of his motorcycle but I do enjoy our discussions about his next motorcycle trip or his next motorcycle gadget (to some degree).  As well he has come to appreciate and enjoy my love of flowers and gardening.  So without further ado I present the treasures of our orchid trail adventure.  Needless to say, we never stopped at the other greenhouses on the trail.  We’ll save them for another day. Hope you enjoy!

Phalaenopsis, orchid, purple, white, large

Harlequin Phalaenopsis-My First Choice

Phalaenopsis, orchid, yellow, pink, flower

Kaleidoscope Pink/Yellow Phalaenopsis-Paul's First Choice


orchid, red, epidendrum, max valley, flower

Epidendrum Max Valley-had to try this red one!!!


lady slipper, orchid,Paphiopedilum,supersuk eureka,raisin pie

Lady Slipper, Paphiopedilum Supersuk Eureka Raisin Pie, getting ready to open


orchid, phalaennopsis, epidendrum, paphiopedilum, flowers, orchid,garden,spring flowers,anemoneshybrids,

My orchid family and a few spring blooms from the garden!!! They look pretty happy so far!

Send me your favorite orchid pictures and stories.  Let’s continue this orchid trail!

Mary Sherwood Lake Living…working with you to create your lifestyle!


Categories : Gardening, Mary's Raves
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Hey good looking what ya been cooking?

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Cooking classes may seem like an unusal offering for an interior design business. Think again!  What do interior designers do?  They create spaces in which to cook, to entertain, to play, to sleep and to be with family and friends.  To do all of this we have to eat.  (I think you can see where this is going.)  So, cooking classes seem to enhance all the other parts of interior design. 🙂 Thanks to many loyal supporters our classes have become a hit.  Here are a few of the things we had cooking at our 50’s cooking class presented by Lake Gaston’s cooking diva, Kathy Dikeman!!!

If you are as old as I am you may remember a lemon flavored, sponge cake cookie made in shell shaped molded pans called madeleines. These cookies are easy to prepare and perfect for a light luncheon dessert or an accompaniment to a raspberry sorbet. Sometimes these cookies are partially dipped in chocolate ganache for extra flare of flavor.  In the 50’s they were frequently served at department store tea rooms and at  “ladies’ luncheons”.

Cookies, sponge cake, luncheon dessert, molded pan

Madeleine's made in molded pans

Shrimp Cocktail Aspic is an updated version of the traditional tomato aspic of the 1950’s.  With V 8 juice and the right amount of spice this recipe made a tasty cold soup (similar to a gazpacho).  With the addition of more gelatin you can create a variation of this recipe which can be poured into a mold or loaf pan and congealed before serving.

Savory Shrimp Cocktail Aspic

The favorite recipe of the class was Smoked Gouda Cheese Fondue. Reflecting back to the days of the fondue pot this recipe adds a new twist. The fondue is prepared on the stove top and served in individual small boules created from whole wheat, crusty dinner rolls from the grocery bakery. Topping the fondue with bacon bits and toasted, sliced almonds made this recipe the winner.

fondue, gouda cheese, bacon, almonds, boule,

Warm and Savory Smoked Gouda Fondue Boule

Smoked Gouda Fondue


8 ounces Gruyère, shredded

1/2 pound, about 6 ounces, smoked Gouda, shredded

1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 large clove garlic, smashed away from skin

2 tsp. lemon juice

3/4 cup dry white wine

6 slices thick cut bacon

1/4 cup smoked almonds, coarsely chopped

Individual hard rolls, the top third cup off to form a cone shape in the inside

Directions: Make the fondue: combine cheeses in a bowl with flour and set aside. Rub the inside of a small pot with smashed garlic then discard. Add wine and lemon juice to pot and bring to a bubble over medium heat. Reduce the heat to simmer and add cheese in handfuls. Stir constantly, melting the cheese in batches. Stir in a figure-eight pattern with wooden spoon. Transfer the fondue to the rolls and top with chopped bacon and smoked nuts.

50’s cooking trivia was a big hit with the class.  The Betty Crocker Cookbook was the bible of the 1950’s kitchen and the “in” way to find recipes. Do you know the first Jello flavor?  What was the most frequently prepared food?  What popular snack food was developed from a crop by Fred Mennen in 1959?  What brand of doughnuts were introduced in 1950?

Send us your answers.  Add your own 50’s trivia.

Upcoming Cooking Classes…  Mark Your Calendar!

April 16 Bruschetta is not just an Appetizer presented by Yvonne Hoffman (just back from an Italian Cooking School)

June 4 Cranking Up the Heat with Grilling Flare presented by Gene St.Clair

Mary Sherwood Lake Living working with you to create your lifestyle at Lake Gaston and beyond!

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